Air Force seeks sources for F-35 Adaptive Engine Replacement program

By Briana Reilly / January 31, 2022 at 3:35 PM

The Air Force is seeking sources to transition to the engineering and manufacturing development phase of its advanced engine program as officials consider the potential of outfitting the F-35A with a new, complete propulsion system.

The sources-sought listing, published Jan. 27, is for the F-35 Adaptive Engine Replacement Program, which aims to complete the EMD phase of the service’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program. Pratt & Whitney and General Electric are both maturing advanced engine prototypes, designed to fit into an F-35A, under that effort.

The notice, which asks that responses be submitted by Feb. 28, directs companies to describe their “capability to enter into a contract committing to the delivery of F-35 engines” and entering low-rate initial production in fiscal year 2028, in addition to requesting feedback on methods for reducing program costs and the areas in need of additional manufacturing maturation to ensure production readiness by FY-29.

The survey also seeks respondents’ ability to meet an FY-24 first-quarter FAER award, and it asks whether the program could “be accelerated below five years.”

Beyond that, the listing attempts to gauge each company’s experience working with prime contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as potential “challenges supporting either two-level or three-level maintenance strategies to include establishing” centralized intermediate repair facilities.

The F-35’s current engine, Pratt’s F135, has two levels of maintenance: operational and depot. Depot capacity has presented difficulties recently, as funding issues delayed site standup and a power module shortage led to an engine backlog.

The F-35 Joint Program Office has not yet committed to a re-engining or upgrade plan, the latter of which is supported by Pratt, which has offered two Enhanced Engine Packages that company executives have said are more affordable than a full engine replacement.

Separately, Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick told reporters last September the JPO is working to mature an “end-state solution” for its propulsion modernization plan within six to 12 months.